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Sally ' Interview 19

Age at interview: 49
Age at diagnosis: 31
Brief Outline: Sally had treatment with donor sperm but it was unsuccessful. She and her husband live happily without children.
Background: Sally is health researcher and lives with her husband. Ethnic background' White British.

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When Sally and her husband got married they knew they would have difficulty having a child as her husband was infertile due to un-descended testes. They decided that they would try for a family with donor sperm and started IUI. But a scan showed that Sally also had a blocked fallopian tube so doctors suggested they try IVF. After one unsuccessful cycle of IVF, further scans revealed fibroids that could be hindering implantation. She had an operation to remove the fibroids and went through a couple more cycles of IVF, but they did not work. At this stage Sally and her husband decided to stop treatment. They moved city and focused on their lives together. Sally feels that their marriage is strong and happy, perhaps happier and less stressful than if they had had children. She is very comfortable with their decision to stop treatment.

 

Sally had a hysterosalpingogram scan which revealed she had one blocked fallopian tube.

Sally had a hysterosalpingogram scan which revealed she had one blocked fallopian tube.

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And after, I suppose, you know it was always stressful, you know, wondering if it had worked and you know, being good and avoiding alcohol and all these sorts of things, and then it was all sort of, you know, a bit disappointing when it didn’t work. And we had a few cycles. I can’t remember exactly how many and then, you know, when it… probably two or three and I think at that point, it was thought that it was worth doing some investigations on me. 
 
And I had a hysterosalpingogram when they put dye into the tubes. And, they established that one tube was blocked. At that point I rather naively thought that perhaps you just, that I assumed sort of ovulated alternatively so you just figured out which side you were ovulating and you know, only went that time.
 
I don’t think they did terribly much to, you know, put me straight on that. And I, it tells you how long ago it was, I can’t quite remember but at the next stage, oh I suppose perhaps because of the blocked tube, they decided that, you know, we would be good candidates for IVF. So I had IVF… you know, three times in quite a short period and we were, you know, tremendously lucky because we had the means to, you know, pay for it ourselves. So we didn’t have the additional stress of, you know, wondering how we could pay, or you know waiting for a year while we saved up and I found it, you know, surprisingly straightforward.
 
 

Sally talked about how her treatment failure felt like a distant memory. She felt she had a...

Sally talked about how her treatment failure felt like a distant memory. She felt she had a...

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And I did become very aware that for some people it was, you know, such an absolutely critical part of their lives to have children that you know life without children just didn’t seem a possibility and the rest of their lives were on hold and they were putting each other under tremendous pressure and you know, that is why I wanted to talk to you, because I think it is quite important to put the side of people who have come through infertility and for whom it is a sort of distant, vaguely, vaguely uncomfortable memory but, you know, very much just a memory, that you know, I don’t feel as though, you know, it hasn’t had a negative impact on the rest of our life. If anything I think, obviously we have had much more time for each other, you know, probably we have got a happier, happier marriage or less stressful marriage. We probably would be still be married if we had children, but probably just feel we had less time for each other. And you know, we have been lucky in so many respects and I realise we are not typical because we were both contributing to the problem, so there wasn’t a sense of one member of the, one partner feeling that, he or she was to blame and feeling terribly guilty about it. For us it was just, well just one of those things. At least we weren’t making two other people have stressful times [laughs].
 
And, then my husband doesn’t have any nieces or nephews, I have now got, we have got six nieces and a nephew and we have both got a lot of God children and we just get tremendous pleasure now. I mean, to be honest, I am not that interested in babies, but I love the children as they get older and seeing them develop, and you know, I feel I will get every bit as much pleasure and perhaps less of the pain of see them then grow up and be friends as they become adults.
 
I saw, you know, I would say that that seems to me, I don’t know what I am missing but I don’t feel that I am missing things. It is not sort of you know, an ongoing ache. It is an occasional twinge. But, you know, being involved with children’s lives is tremendously important and worthwhile. It is nice to be able to do it, but you don’t have to be a parent to have a huge part of, amount of pleasure from it.
 
I just felt that perhaps, it is easy for me to say this, because I can see all the reasons why it was it was an easier decision for us, than for other people, but I still think that the message is, you know, look at your life as a whole, not as, you know, it is empty without children. You know, children obviously are fabulous. They are a wonderful part of people’s lives but they are also a huge amount of, you know, stress as well. And there are, you know, other means of fulfilment that I think are equally important. 
 
No I had always imagined having children. But in a way I think that reflected my lack of imagination [laughs] and ambition, you know I really wasn’t very ambitious. I thought, you know, I thought I would like to have children and I thought my Mother had done a very good job, and, you know, she seemed to be fulfilled having children and yes, I came from a happy and stable family. So it seemed like the obvious thing to do. So I suppose that when I, because I realised after, I also thought well it is not as if it was so much a choice, it was, just, you know, what I thought I would do. 
 
And, once we stopped trying to have children and my husband encouraged me to go back to work and you know, I seemed a bit, I was lacking in confidence at that time, but once I got back to work, I just felt so much, you know, I got into it and I realised that probably I was much better off working than I would have been, because I, you know, I hadn’t intended to try and juggle work and children. Because I just think people who do that have a lot more energy than I do. And so I was going to be a full time Mum, especially if I struggled to have them. But I think I am a more fulfilled and probably a happier person perhaps from what happened. So I suppose I am a great believer in fate. 

Perhaps working out better than you sometimes think it does. Yes. I am probably a glass half full sort of person because I look for the good points, and that has been a benefit, yes.
 
 

Sally offered advice to those who are facing a future without children.

Sally offered advice to those who are facing a future without children.

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And what about any advice that you would give to other people thinking about that are in treatment, or thinking about going into treatment, or stopping treatment…?
 
Well I suppose just to, it is easier said than then done, but, you know, try to remember that there is a life out there and try to remember, yes, it will be fantastic if it works but you know, a life without children isn’t, is by no means meaningless and that you are very likely to find other things that are really important to you. 
 
And you know, to make sure, you know, that you don’t lose what you have currently got in an attempt to get the final piece of the jigsaw, you know, I think it put marriages under tremendous strain and some people will split up because of it. But what seems to me is a tragedy is if it splits up, if you split up because of it, when actually if you hadn’t let it become such an issue you would have had the chance to enjoy each other. Live you know quite happily in a very good fulfilled way.
 
 You know, I mean I think some people will decide that children are more important to them than to a marriage perhaps, you know, so that is what they really want but to me, I was fairly clear which way round my priorities were, and I don’t think I ever had that, you know, very strong yearning for a baby. I always thought of it in terms of children, so it wasn’t as if seeing a baby caused a great maternal rush. It was more, you know, I saw, yes, I wanted a family life like my parents and in fact that is one other thing that I felt, and it was very, quite a strong influence that, you know, you came across people who were having infertility because they had one child and they were unable to have a second and there was some people whose view as well, they have got one child why would they want another and I realised that I didn’t want to have an only child. I actually think it is quite hard to be the only child, and that is probably because I wasn’t one and I could see the benefits of siblings, not always, generally benefits of siblings. And also that it is a very big responsibility for an only child with aged parents. I mean I am going to be a nuisance to a large number of nieces, but at least, you know, they can share it out. So perhaps I am just over pragmatic to be, you know, thinking my old age before I have even had a child, but there was this feeling, well okay so we have one child, what next, you know, apart from anything else a second child would have a different Father and you know, and time was not quite running out but it was moving on, you know, I felt as if, you know, my parents, my family, my friends and family were having their children and that if we didn’t have one until about the time they had their third then we would be perpetually lagging behind. Which I know isn’t terribly rational but I was getting very pragmatic about what the next steps might be and how it all fitted into the picture of family life that I had.
 
So in fact that was, yes, having realised how difficult it was going to be, you suddenly thought well hang, this is really makes sense.
 
 

Sally said it was important to try and remember that there is a life out there. It will be...

Sally said it was important to try and remember that there is a life out there. It will be...

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Well I suppose just to, it is easier said than done, but, you know, try to remember that there is a life out there and try to remember, yes, it will be fantastic if it works but you know, a life without children isn’t, is by no means meaningless and that you are very likely to find other things that are really important to you. 
 
And you know, to make sure, you know, that you don’t lose what you have currently got in an attempt to get the final piece of the jigsaw, you know, I think it put marriages under tremendous strain and some people will split up because of it. But what seems to me is a tragedy is if it splits up, if you split up because of it, when actually if you hadn’t let it become such an issue you would have had the chance to enjoy each other. Live you know quite happily in a very good fulfilled way.
 
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